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This is kinda blowing my mind right now.  Wow.  (warning: colorful language)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HT: Lukas

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Former Late Night host Conan O’Brien is currently on a music/comedy tour with the Max Weinberg Seven (now known as the Legally Prohibited Band). Conan and his band are playing theaters across the country for the next couple months, and some soundcheck footage has serviced. Check out Conan’s pretty awesome British accent as the band covers a Radiohead tune.

I just got done giving our newborn daughter Suzy a bottle for tonight’s first feeding. She’s two and half weeks old now, and the whole having-a-newborn-around-the-house-again situation is really going great.

Anyway, I always quietly play music on Suzy’s nursery stereo, and just now we were listening to a Radiohead-tribute record by a classical pianist named Christopher O’RileyTrue Love Waits is 15 tracks of Radiohead songs, all arranged and performed by O’Riley on solo grand piano.

Listening to this album reminded me again why I love Radiohead so much: the music is simply some of the most gorgeous music I have ever heard.  It’s sometimes easy to miss this because their more recent work is so heavily produced and saturated with the influence of electronic instruments.  When all that is stripped away and the tunes are just played on piano, the beauty and complexity of the COMPOSITIONS becomes so apparent.  The very existence of a record like True Love Waits is a testament to the brilliance of Radiohead’s writing, being that classical musicians are typically quite snobbish about the works they choose to record.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t like Radiohead’s drummer at all.  In fact, Phil Selway is probably the most uninspiring player I can think of… and yet, I still love Radiohead’s music.

This week in “Mews”…

– Radiohead has begun work on a new album.  Colin Greenwood: “It’s at the stage where we’ve got the big Lego box out, and we’ve tipped it on the floor, and we’re just looking at the bits and wondering what to build.” Nigel Godrich is once again in the production chair.   BBC

– A remix album of the new Depeche Mode record is in the works, but Sigur Ros and MGMT (artists not known for “remixing” anything) are among those tackling the tracks.  Might be more of a cover/tribute album?  Pitchfork.com

– The new Frank Sinatra biopic will be directed by Martin Scorsese.  Sinatra + Scorsese = rad.  NPR

– Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam’s bassist) was assaulted and robbed a few weeks ago outside the Atlanta studio where the band is working on their 9th album.  Apparently the thieves made off with over $3,000 in cash.  (The obvious question at this point: “um, who carries that much cash?”)  Meanwhile, Pearl Jam has been booked for the debut of the new Conan O’Brien show on June 1st.  Rollingstone.com

– The Rock Band people are working on a country version of the video game, to be released this summer.  The new game will no doubt contain heavy doses of patriotism, instrumental parts that require immense precision to perform, and be relentlessly mocked by fans of every other kind of music.  Countrystandardtime.com

– Editorial: A band I really love, The Posies, have reunited and are playing two NYC shows in a few weeks.  The shows are rumored to include a performance of their amazing 1993 release, Frosting On The Beater, from top to bottom.  Livenation.com

Music news for the week…

– It appears that Radiohead’s managers advised the band to end their career after their contract with Capitol Records expired.  I mean, wow.  I imagine the conversation went something like this: “Hey guys, you’re producing incredibly creative and groundbreaking music time and time again… but now that you aren’t owned by a huge corporation anymore… well, I don’t know what to do… I guess you should just call it quits.” Unbelievable.  Pitchfork.com

– Believe it or not, the US Department of Homeland Security produced a handful of pop records in Spanish and recently distributed them to Central American radio stations.  The albums contain songs that “warn of the danger of illegally crossing the US/Mexican border.”  Although the musicians on the project have remained anonymous, I think we all know that Toby Keith had at least something to do with it.  guardian.co.uk

– In other US Government music news, the State Department has unveiled a new program called Musical Overtures, which sends musicians into the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The initiative intends to utilize the “universal” elements of music in an attempt to bridge cultures and improve relations.  allaboutjazz.com

– It’s only been two weeks since Joe Striani filed a suit against Coldplay for musical plagiarism against him in their song “Viva La Vida.” Now, all of a sudden, Cat Stevens is doing the same thing.  Meanwhile, Coldplay has announced a free live album, released digitally on the band’s website on May 15.  nme.com and Pitchfork.com

– The median age for viewers of this season’s American Idol episodes is 43, a solid ten years higher than the shows previous seasons.  Go figure.  MTV.com

– Editorial item:  We’re doing a cover of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” at the Jesse Langseth gig next week.  We found the version on a cool Ike and Tina Turner album called Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter.  Aside from being the best album title ever, Ike and Tina’s version of the song is arguably superior to Zep’s (gasp).

PCMag.com reports that the itunes music world is changing significantly. From the article…

At Apple’s final keynote address to the Macworld faithful today, the company made an announcement that should change the way music is purchased from now on—roll it back to the old, better way, I mean. Apple will no longer put DRM code on its iTunes music files. DRM, shorthand for Digital Rights Management, is the “protection” that is encoded into purchased digital audio files, such as songs from iTunes or the Zune Marketplace. The “rights’ being managed and “protected” have never been those of the consumer, but those of the record labels seeking to ensure that customers aren’t tempted to copy the files they’ve purchased and hand them off to friends for free.

Hooray! The stupid, insulting blight to the consumer’s intelligence that is DRM has finally been done away with. Remember stereo cassette players that had dubbing decks on them, for the specific purpose of making “mixtapes” and copies for friends? It might be hard to remember, because these devices coincided with a time when records actually sold and big labels had real budgets. Then something happened: the digital music revolution. CDs gave way to files, and labels feared consumers would never buy music again, only steal it. Their solution: steal from the consumer. With DRM, making “mixtapes” or playlists for friends became a whole lot harder. Paying for music felt a little bit like a scam, since there were limitations on how you could use the music. Would it play on someone else’s MP3 player? If you stopped subscribing to a service, would you lose the songs you paid for because they were “protected”? Unsurprisingly, the record industry slumped horribly, mainly because instead of adapting to a new business landscape, the companies merely reacted, and restricted consumers in ways that they had never been restricted before. Turns out, people don’t like that.

You can read the whole article here.  This is a huge deal.  Basically, it’s huge because it completely nullifies the “legal” claims of the past few years.  We, as music consumers, have been told over and over that file sharing and unauthorized copying of digital music is STEALING.  This was the rationale behind making it illegal, right?  I mean, stealing is illegal… and if file sharing is the equivalent to stealing, then that should also be illegal!  Except, as shown in the article, the “stealing” issue was only a mask for the real concern: record label profits.  The expectation was that file sharing would result in big losses, so it was dubbed “stealing.”  The big losses came anyway, and now with the emergence of a  digital music landscape that suggests file sharing might actually increase profits (as Radiohead’s bold experiment proved), well… all of a sudden the “stealing” is perfectly legal.  Unbelievable.

All that needed to happen was the labels’ being convinced that file sharing would make them more money, not less.  With this conviction they get to just erase all the years of their anti-piracy rhetoric.  To quote Thom Yorke: “I like the people at our record company, but the time is at hand when you have to ask why anyone needs one. And, yes, it probably would give us some perverse pleasure to say ‘F___ you’ to this decaying business model.”

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